say is, that those persons, who, by Christ's appointment to or by the apostles, were authorized to govern the church, are the heads of Christian societies, and every such society is a distinct government; and that this cannot be the division of parishes, because that division was later than the authority: and though this be true also of diocesses, as they are now divided, yet that division being but accidental to the charge, and the charge being an appointed relation,—that which is accidental and superinduced, cannot prejudice the nature and institution of it, but that a bishop and his charge, more or less, is an entire society or commonwealth, as much as the thing can be; that is, according to the nature and capacity of the subject matter, it is an entire government, and prelate and people make the parts of the integral constitution.

4. To the verification therefore of the power thus subjected, all those titles of eminency and superior office recorded in Scripture do aptly minister: as that they are called pastors,' and rulers,' and 'præpositi,' and {TOKOTOL, "bishops' or 'overseers' of the church : he that hears them, hears Christ, who hath sent them, as himself was sent. Upon the account of these, the first rulers of churches in Scripture did give laws to their people, and threatened the disobedient not only by the force of their extraordinary power, but by the effects of their ordinary ministry. The particular instances of command I shall enumerate, when I give account in what things they have power to make laws; but these words of power were sufficient warrant, and were like seals to their commissions and monitors of their duty. But so the rulers of the church did practise their power, and taught the necessity of obedience.

5. To this purpose are those words of St. Clement9 to St. James the brother of our Lord; “ These things, most dear brother, I have received from the mouth of holy Peter, who gave the commands, and I have endeavoured to show them to thee, that thou mayest command them all to be kept inviolate, because ecclesiastical affairs ought not to be done carelessly, but with diligence. Therefore let no man think, that, without danger, he can neglect these precepts, or dissemble them ; quia in judicio Dei ignis æterni tormenta sustinebit,

1 Epist. Clem. 1. in fine.

qui ecclesiastica decreta neglexerit;' because, in the judgment of God, he shall suffer the torments of an eternal fire, who shall neglect the decrees of the church.' But he that shall hear thee as the minister of Christ commanded, shall receive glory: but he that shall not hear thee, or rather the Lord speaking by thee, shall receive to himself damnation.”

6. St. Ignatius' is very frequent and express in this particular :—"Be subject to the bishop as to the Lord. For he watches for your souls, as he that must give an account to God. For it is necessary, that you do nothing without the bishop. For he that is disobedient to bishops, will be altogether without God, impious, and a despiser of Christ, and a disparager of his ordinance.”—And again”; “ It is fit that you obey your bishop, and in nothing to contradict him. For he that does, despises not him that is visible,—but, in him, despises the invisible God, who cannot be despised of any one. For the bishop hath not his promotion from men, but from God.”

7. Tertullian', speaking of the power and judicatory of the church, saith, “ Ibidem etiam exhortationes, castigationes, et censura divina; nam et judicatur magno cum pondere, ut apud certos de Dei conspectu ;" “ There are exhortations, chastisements, and a divine censure; for the judgment of the church is with great weight and efficacy, because it is amongst them who are certain that they shall appear before God: and it is the greatest forerunner of the great judgment, if any one sins so that he be banished from the communion of prayers, assemblies, and all holy intercourse.”

8. To which if we add the words of St. Cyprian", we shall find not only the power and authority warranted, but the subject of the power declared to be the bishop:-“Since there are such and so great and many other examples and precedents, by which the authority of the bishop and his powers are established by divine ordinance, what sort of men do you suppose them to be, who, being enemies of bishops and rebels against the catholic church, are not affrighted with the threatening of God admonishing them, nor yet with the revenge of the future judgment? For heresies have arisen and schisms commenced from no other cause than this, that men

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do not obey (the bishop] the priest of God: neither do they consider that there is in the church for a time a judge instead of Christ, to whom if all the brethren would obey according to the commands of God, no man would move any thing against a college of bishops; no man would, after the divine judgment is passed, after the suffrage of the people, and the judgment of the bishops his assessors, make himself a judge not of the bishop, but indeed of God himself; no man would divide the unity of the church; no man, by a self-pleasure and pride, would make a new heresy apart by himself.”

9. I only add the testimony of St. Jerome *, it being in a clear case as to the thing itself; and the difficulty being only in the measures, the manner, and instances, of obedience.

Episcopus vester cui ecclesiæ commissum est regimen," &c. “Your bishop to whom the government of the church is committed, whom God hath placed as the surveyor of his vineyard, the shepherd of the sheep, the director of the flock, the leader of the people both in the city and the country in which ye live, let him nourish you with a singular care, and feed you with the meat of holy doctrine, and in the presence of God take especial care of your souls : let all men, devoutly, and with an even mind as to God, obey him to whom all the city is committed.”

But because I have given a larger account of this duty in general, in a discourse on purpose, I shall more properly consider in what particular cases the conscience is, or is not, bound to obey the church-governors,


The Church hath Power to make Laws in all Things of necessary

Duty, by a direct Power and a divine Authority. 1. St. Ignatius, discoursing of the bishop's power, commands subjection to him in so large and comprehensive terms, that they seem to put an end to all further inquiries in this rule of conscience, by making all inquiries to be useless; because an obedience universal is due. " Necesse est

* In Regul. Monachor. cap. 17.

y Episcopacy asserted.

ut quicquid facitis, nihil sine episcopo tentetis, et in nullo illi refragaria :” and again"; "Nec quicquam videatur vobis consentaneum, quod sit præter illius judicium; quod enim tale est, Deo inimicum est :"_“It is necessary that whatsoever ye do, ye do nothing without the bishop ; that ye

be obedient to him, and be refractory against him in nothing : -neither let any thing please you, that is besides his judgment; for whatsoever is so, is an enemy to God.”—The same also he repeats in other places, and gives it in command to other churches. But this is too general to guide any man, and therefore of itself requires a limit: and therefore himself does explicate it in his letters to the church of Smyrna :-“Sine episcopo, nemo quicquam faciat eorum, quæ ad ecclesiam spectant;" “ Without the bishop let no man do any thing of that, which belongs to the church ;" that is, whatsoever is intrusted to the bishop's charge, the conduct of souls, the duties of religion, the commandments of God, the sacraments of the religion, the orders of the divine institution, the interior actions of grace, and the external which are of necessary ministry and relation to them, are under the discipline and legislation of the church. For in these things only, his charge,—and therefore, in these only, his authority,—does lie.

2. Thus the bishop hath power to command his subject or parishioner to put away his concubine ; and if he does not, he not only sins by uncleanness, but by disobedience too. For the authority of the church being spiritual, it hath power over the spirit, and introduces guilt upon the soul if it be disobeyed. So that it is but folly and ignorance to think the bishop hath no power, because he is to command only in those things where God hath commanded already. For though he is God's minister, and commands not by his own will, but by God's, yet he hath the authority of God given to him to do that: and besides that it is not reasonable to think, that God would give the church-rulers his authority for trifling and needless purposes; it is also evident in the thing itself, that it is of great effect, because, even in these things, he is the voice of God, and judges in the place of God, and affrights sinners with the accents of his displeasure, and, upon this account, brings a burden upon the dis1 Ad Trallian.

a Ad Magnes. 6 Epist. ad Ephes.

obedient, which was never brought upon him before the command and sentence of the church.

3. Whatsoever therefore the bishop commands us as from God, in that his power and legislation are properly exercised: and it is absolutely to be obeyed without any other condition or reserve, but that it be indeed the will and commandment of God. So St. Bernard"; "Quicquid vice Dei prælatus homo præcipit, quod non sit tamen certum displicere Deo, haud secus omnino recipiendum est ac si præcipiat ipse Deus ;” “Whatsoever the prelate, in the stead of God, commands, provided you are certain it does not displease God, it must be received, as if God himself commanded it. For what difference is it whether God by bimself, or by men, his ministers, or by his ministering angels, make his will and pleasure known unto us?"—Where it is observable, that he does not give leave to disobey, if we question whether it be God's will or no; for if it be a question, the presumption is for the authority imposing it: and in that case, though it be a doubt in theory, yet that must not hinder the practical obedience; because it is as certain, that our lawful superior hath power to command us to obey, when we are not certain of the thing, as it is certain that it is a sin, if we do it in a doubting conscience by our own authority. For “ the authority of God in the hand of the prelate” is warrant enough to determine us, when we know nothing to the contrary, though " our own will is not.” If we have a doubting conscience, we have nothing, while the doubt remains, to oppose against it but our will, and that is not sufficient; but a divine authority is. Now although, in the present case, it does not work to the clearing of the material doubt, yet it does operate to the clearing of the duty : and therefore St. Bernard said well, “Quod non sit tamen certum displicere Deo,” “Unless you are sure (that is, be fully persuaded), you displease God in obeying the bishop, it is certain you do displease God by disobeying him.”

4. For it is a part of our obedience not to judge his sentence, that is, not to give judgment against him in a question of difficulty, but to stand to his sentence: “Credas tibi salutare, quicquid ille præceperit; nec de majorum sententia judices, cujus officii est obedire et implere quæ jussa sunt,”

c Lib. de Præceplo et Dispensatione.

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